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Focal Hyperhidrosis - A Snapshot
So what do individuals with focal hyperhidrosis (FHH) look like? Well, to start with, from a physical perspective they are just regular people. But there is a recent study that paints a picture of the condition. In other words, the study examined patterns and characteristics related to individuals with profuse sweating. In medical terms we refer to this as the epidemiology of a medical condition.
The following data are based on over 500 individuals with focal or primary hyperhidrosis reporting to two clinics, one American (242 individuals) and the other Canadian (266 individuals)*
Age Onset and Gender
The average age of onset was 14 years of age*. Those with positive family history had an earlier onset. In another study, the age of onset was 13 years as opposed to 16 years for those without a family link.**
Although this study* indicates a higher prevalence among women (63%) it should be noted that these results are based on individuals reporting to a clinic. Keep in mind that women are more likely to treat a sweaty condition than men. As such, the gender split favouring women may be exaggerated. Most studies, including a large survey of 150,000 U.S. households support a prevalence that is equal among men and women.^
Prevalence by Age
Hyperhidrosis is predominantly experienced between the ages of 25 to 54 years. More than 60% of individuals with hyperhidrosis are within this age group. Individuals under 25 years of age account for almost 20% of those with excessive sweating problems.^
Individuals reported a number of factors that worsened their sweating condition. Situations causing anxiety or stress was the most aggravating factor. This was followed by heat or summer weather and exercise. Other aggravators included factors such as food, humidity, movement, caffeine, and sleep. Individuals with involvement on palms and / or soles were less likely to indicate stress/anxiety as aggravating factors. Those affected in the face/scalp areas were more likely to list food, exercise and heat as troublesome factors.
* Lear W et.al. Dermatol Surg 2007;33:S69–S75. **Eun Jung Park et.al. J Korean Med Sci 2010; 25: 772-5. ^ Strutton DR et.al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51:241–8.
Almost half (44%) of individuals reported the incidence of hyperhidrosis in other family members. This number may be even higher given that over 8% of individuals reported being unaware whether there existed family members with the condition.
This chart demonstrates that individuals are most often affected in the axillary or underarm region. Men were significantly more likely to present with facial and scalp hyperhidrosis. In contrast, women were more likely to have plantar hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating of the soles of the feet. Women were also more likely to have isolated axillary (i.e. just the underarms) hyperhidrosis. Involvement of additional areas such as the back, chest, abdomen or forearm was more likely in men.
Children vs Adolescents*
There was a differences in terms of affected sites based on age. For example, children (0-11 yrs) were more likely to present with sweating of the palms and soles or both. On the other hand, adolescents (12-19 yrs) were most likely to have axillary hyperhidrosis.
It is somewhat difficult to draw conclusions with regards to occupation. The actual number of certain occupations could skew results. For example, there are many more students than there are unemployed and disabled in the population. Socioeconomic factors may also be at play. Wealthier individuals may be more likely to treat. Having said this, it is apparent that excessive sweating is certainly a condition associated with the younger population.